A large percentage of the Brazilian population hire help to assist with cleaning, cooking or performing other domestic tasks. Find out in this article what the rules and obligations are when hiring someone to perform domestic functions.
Brazil has the largest amount of domestic workers in the world, according to UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO). A total of 7.2 million people currently “continuously provide services of non-economic character”, as defined by the Ministry of Labour.
With the growth of employment levels and the rise of the so called class C population, more families are starting to hire people to perform tasks such as cleaning, cooking, babysitting and similar activities.
The large amount of Brazilians - most of them living in poorer conditions - employed as domestic workers led to a need to strictly regulate this profession, in order to avoid any abuse and to grant the same rights that are given to other workers.
This need was overcome with a law that is known as the “Domestic Workers Law”. It sets various rights, obligations and benefits relating to this class of professionals, and it has been active since 2013.
Only domestic workers that have a continuous working bond with the employer can benefit from the Domestic Workers Law. Cleaners that go to the same house once or twice per week are not considered as domestic workers, but as someone informally providing a service.
Rights and benefits granted to domestic workers are now very similar to what is seen with any other registered professional. Before the law was approved, many employees were treated informally, so some aspects were negotiated and other benefits were simply not granted.
With the Domestic Workers law, professionals that fit into this category can work a maximum period of 44 hours per week and a maximum of 8 hours per day. They must also receive:
- A remuneration package that cannot be lower than the minimum wage, which in 2014 is BRL 724
- Paid overtime
- Bonus wage, known as 13th salary, paid at the end of the year
- Paid weekly rest
- Maternity leave
Other rights and benefits are still awaiting for approval and sign off from the Brazilian Senate. Some examples are:
- Unemployment insurance
- Mandatory Severance Indemnity Fund
- Bonus payment if work is performed between 22:00 and 5:00
- Insurance against accidents at work
- Financial assistance directed to daycare expenses and schooling for children under the age of five
- Compensation in case of unjustified dismissal, known in Brazil as aviso prévio
Employers that refuse to grant any of the rights above or even to register domestic workers on their working document (known in Brazil as CTPS, short for Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social) are subject to a fine of BRL 805.56. This amount can be even higher depending on some factors, such as the age of the employee and how long they have been working for that individual.
Notice that the amount collected from penalties are not passed onto the domestic workers, but to a government fund. In addition to the fine, other consequences may apply depending on the result of legal processes moved by prosecutors, like a compensation to the worker.
Taxes and Contributions
The employer must pay some contributions based on the domestic worker’s wage; some can be deducted from their payment, some others can’t.
People hiring a domestic worker must pay a monthly contribution known as FGTS, short for Fundo de Garantia do Tempo e Serviço or Severance Indemnity Fund. FGTS is equal to 8% of the employee’s wage, and cannot be deducted from their payment.
There is also a contribution for Instituto Nacional da Segurança Social (INSS, or National Institute of Social Security). The employer must pay a monthly amount which corresponds to 12% of the domestic worker salary, while the worker themselves pay a rate that varies from 8% to 11% depending on their wage.